By Rob Barnett
Stuart Broad could barely have made a better response to the goading he has endured in the build-up to this Ashes series.
The reasons for the taunting that came Broad’s way today do not need repeating but, if the cat-calls were designed to put the paceman off his game, they spectacularly backfired.
Broad produced a splendid display of seam bowling on an extremely flat pitch that Michael Clarke unsurprisingly opted to bat first on.
Figures of 5-65 from 20 overs tell just some of the story given Broad outsmarted several batsmen, not least Clarke - the most prized wicket at a ground where he holds the highest Test score.
Broad’s display was fundamental in England limiting their opponents to 273 for eight at stumps, with James Anderson, Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann offering even more economical support.
Having been booed while marking his run-up as he shared the new ball with Anderson, Broad began with a short no-ball that David Warner pulled for four. But the first delivery of his next over saw Chris Rogers splice a catch to gully.
Broad returned to the attack as lunch approached and, the over after Shane Watson edged him between two slips and gully, he went wider on the crease to have Watson held at second slip.
Broad’s next set of six, after the interval, showed his and England’s cunning. Three full balls to Clarke, encouraging him to drive through a vacant mid-on, were followed by an unexpected short one that the Australia skipper lobbed toIan Bell at short-leg.
Two personal overs later Warner was caught at cover via a loose cut, meaning Broad had the first four wickets with just 81 on the board.
A third spell brought no breakthrough as Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson built a century stand, but returning with the second new ball, which he swung both ways, Broad bowled Johnson between bat and pad.
With that fifth scalp, the seamer held the ball aloft as Johnson was being applauded for his 64. Those cheers for the departing batsman gave way to grudging recognition that Broad had ensured it was England’s day, a fact Anderson then emphasised with his second wicket.